Promoting congregant health in faith-based organizations across Los Angeles County, 2013–2016


Robles, B.; Wright, T.G.; Caldwell, J.; Kuo, T.


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) launched the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) Project in fall 2013. As the local arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), this project partnered with faith-based organizations (FBOs) in Los Angeles County to implement policy, systems, and environmental change interventions (PSEs) at selected church sites, alongside the usual delivery of health education. A 2-part programmatic assessment was conducted to better understand how the NEOP Faith Based Project at one of the FBOs was implemented during the 2013–2016 SNAP-Ed funding cycle. A qualitative component (key informant interviews) sought to understand and describe the PSE implementation process at each of the participating church sites, whereas the quantitative component (surveys) focused on assessing congregant perceptions about their awareness of the PSEs, their knowledge and beliefs about health, and their self-reported health behaviors after exposure to onsite changes. Among congregants who participated in the survey, 52% expressed desire for more health education classes. However, only 37% reported being aware of them at church sites that hosted them. When asked to compare their behaviors for “today” versus 6 months ago, more than half reported greater interest in eating more fruits and vegetables (66%), choosing water over soda (69%), and becoming more physically active (59%). Results from the NEOP Project have implications for how local health departments could partner with FBOs to outreach and promote health among congregants, particularly for those who are at high-risk of diet-related diseases due to poor nutrition and obesity. © 2019 The Author(s)


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